This training series provides an introduction to the knowledge, skills, and abilities to plan, design, and install Critical Area Planting (CPS342). Additional training may be needed.

Practice Specific


Training Type
Online Learning

United States


1. Ability to use current Wind and Water Erosion Prediction Tools

Erosion 101This training module focuses on the types of erosion and the resource concerns associated with erosion.  It orients participants to the types and processes of soil erosion to prepare them to utilize the current soil erosion models - RUSLE2 and WEPS.   
Water Erosion Prediction with RUSLE2This course provides an overview of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), and instructions on how to use the RUSLE2 model to estimate sheet and rill erosion.
Wind Erosion Prediction with WEPSThis course provides an overview of the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS), and instructions on how to use the WEPS model to estimate wind erosion.


2. Ability to Assess Site Soil Conditions and Prescribe Treatment and the Appropriate Vegetation

Introduction to Agronomy Tech Note #31Agronomy Technical Note #31 (ATN31) is used as a guide for the establishment of native and introduced plantings of herbaceous vegetation for the following practices:
• Conservation Cover (327)
• Contour Buffer Strips (332)
• Critical Area Planting (342)
• Filter Strip (393)
• Forage and Biomass Planting (512)
• Cross Wind Trap Strips (598C)
• Restoration of Rare or Declining Natural Communities (643)
• Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (645)
• Wetland Restoration (657)

This course is the first module in the series, and it provides an overview of Agronomy Tech Note 31 and an introduction to introduced, native, and invasive species.
Seed and Seeding MethodsThis course is the second module in the ATN 31 series, and it describes the different methods for seedbed preparation and seeding and covers seeding equipment, seeder calibration, herbicide considerations, and planting dates. This course also discusses the concepts of Pure Live Seed (PLS) and Seeds Per Square Foot (seeds/sq. ft.).
Seeding Considerations and EvaluationsThis course is the third module in the ATN 31 series, and it covers companion crops, temporary cover, weed control, and fertilizer and lime considerations. This course also outlines the procedures for completing stand evaluations.
Seed Calculator ToolThis course is the fourth and final module in the ATN 31 series, and it provides instructions on the use of the Seed Calculator Tool for developing seed plans and completing checkouts after plantings.
Plant Materials for Salt-Affected Sites in the Northern Great PlainsInformation/reference material
Cool-Season Grass Performance on Saline Soils in the Northern Great PlainsInformation/reference material


3. Knowledge of Soil pH and Sodicity to Prescribe Appropriate Treatment

  • On the Job Training


Practice Specific Training

Tech Talk: Critical Area PlantingTech Talk replay from April 6, 2020. Kelly Voigt reviews the PS342 Critical Area Planting Implementation Requirements and examples.
Tech Talk: Seeding Calculator WorkbookEric Anderson, NRCS Area Resource Conservationist demonstrates how to use the Conservation Seeding Calculator workbook to either develop a seeding plan or complete a checkout on a planting. He also shows new updates that have been made to the workbook including corrections to errors on the 342 Critical Area Planting tab and the new functionality to do seeding checkouts that document whether an applied seeding meets or does not meet practice specifications.


Updated: 1/19/2024